Monday, February 6, 2012

Traveling together

It's still really early in the Yukon Quest.  My guess is that there's not a lot of racing going on right now but that there's a lot of positioning so that they'll be set up to make a move later in the race.  There's always the possibility of someone making a surprise move, like Lance Mackey's famous, heroic run from Nulato to Unalakleet in the 2010 Iditarod, but it's the nature of surprises to be surprising (you can quote me on that).  Competitive teams want to make sure that other contenders can be reeled in when the time comes to make a move, so you sometimes see them traveling together and keeping an eye on one another.  That appears to be what's going on at the moment.  Here's what it looks like on the race flow plot:

We're seeing six people traveling in three pairs, plus Sonny Lindner running alone.  At the time this screenshot was grabbed Hugh and Brent had been traveling together for 3.5 hours.  Abbie and Allen left at about the same time.  Allen had a brief, er, "diversion" leaving Circle, but he caught up and they're now traveling together.  The final pair is Kristy Berington and Lance Mackey.  With each of these duos there are occasional passes, but the overall slopes of the line (i.e. speed) is remaining more-or-mess constant while they run down the Yukon towards Eagle.  What we're seeing is strategy, not flat-out racing.


  1. Hi Again,

    It would be wonderful to be able to take the flow curves and drag them around and/or be able to set them at a common start point. This would be helpful to compare racers. Let's say in the section from CC to Slavens we could take Mackey's curve and lay it next to the other teams at Slaven's right now. Berington left with Mackey from CC so we see their two curves start together and with Mackey's faster run times see that he arrives at Slaven's over 1 hr ahead. This is nicely shown in divergence of the curves. I would like to be able to drag Mackey's curve over to the other racer and compare this run.

    On the subject of the small pertubations in the curves - notice that while on Birch creek the curves are very jagged. This must be related to the tight meanders and the algorithm that calculates a teams actual place on the Trackleader Quest Trail (=the red line)?

    Keep up the interesting posts. Darren.

  2. The way I've been looking at the curves is basically to eyeball points on the x and y axes and take the slope, see where they differ. For a next step I'd really like to be able to select different mushers - not only compare people from the back of the pack but also narrow it down to two or three teams. The drag idea is interesting - never occurred to me!

    I forwarded your earlier question to Matthew and he thinks that what you're noticing is the result of the software making adjustments for slightly-off arithmetic. It occurred to me this morning that that's got to be the case. We know that the distances between checkpoints aren't necessarily accurate (see this: and they're probably further off in Birch Creek because the trail is so convoluted.